A card headlined by the return of former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal will feature an eight-man tournament where all participants face a must-win situation.
ProBox TV unveiled its ‘Last Chance Tournament’ as part of the May 20 show topped by a light heavyweight bout between Pascal and unbeaten contender Meng Fanlong (17-0, 10KOs) at ProBox Event Center in Plant City, Florida. The four quarterfinal bouts are all scheduled for eight rounds and at junior welterweight, featuring fighters who are at a make-or-break point in their respective careers.
One side of the bracket pits China’s Zhiming Wang (11-3, 3KOs) versus Mexico’s Francisco Armenta (12-1, 4KOs), with the winner to face whomever prevails between San Antonio’s Kendo Castaneda (17-5, 8KOs) and Toledo native Sonny Fredrickson (21-5, 14KOs).
The winner of that series will await the last man standing in similarly matched bouts on the other side of the bracket featuring once-noted prospects and former title challengers. Michael Dutchover (15-2, 10 KOs) of Midland, Texas collides with locally-based St. Petersburg native Clarence Booth (21-4, 13 KOs), while Mexico City-bred fringe lightweight contender Antonio “Toño” Moran (26-5-1, 19 KOs) faces Philadelphia’s Jeffery Torres (10-1, 6 KOs).
“This tournament highlights our commitment to reinvigorate non-championship fights for the real boxing fights who wants to see real action,” Garry Jonas, ProBox TV founder and CEO said of the junior welterweight bouts. “I think fans will really enjoy this tournament as it exemplifies the adage by which we plan to change the sport: ‘Good Fighters in Great Fights.’
“I am very confident that real boxing fans who crave evenly matched fights will enjoy seeing how this tournament plays out.”
The tournament is accompanied by news of former secondary WBA featherweight titlist Xu Can (18-3, 3KOs) suffering an injury in having to withdraw from a planned featherweight clash with Queretaro, Mexico’s Brandon Benitez (18-2, 7KOs).
Fanlong remains hopeful of a long overdue shot at the light heavyweight title. The 2008 Olympian for China was the mandatory challenger for the IBF title currently held by lineal/WBC/IBF champ Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17KOs), though their ordered title fight suffered several postponements and an outright cancellation due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic.
The 34-year-old southpaw has fought just once since then, a ten-round decision of Israel Duffus last October.
Pascal enters on the heels of a low point in his otherwise storied career, having tested positive for multiple banned substances ahead of his canceled rematch with Badou Jack last June. Pascal previously outpointed Jack via split decision in their December 2019 clash in Atlanta, defending a secondary version of the WBA light heavyweight title he claimed in a technical decision win over then-unbeaten Marcus Browne earlier in the year.
The wins resurrected the career of Pascal (35-6-1, 20KOs), a former lineal/WBC light heavyweight champion who lost his crown to Bernard Hopkins in their May 2011 rematch after fighting to a draw five months prior. Pascal remained an integral part of the light heavyweight division, boasting among the strongest resume of his generation, though also failing on three separate occasions to reclaim a piece of the light heavyweight throne.
Pascal-Fanlong and the Last Chance Tournament will air live on the ProBox TV app, which comes with a $1.99 monthly subscription price.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox